Commissioner blames non-state actors for human rights violations
MPs criticize EHRC report as House demands thematic report
The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has revealed new human rights violator’s in a six-month performance report presented to the House of People’s Representatives (HPR). The report said these violators of human rights mostly constitute of non-state actors who either serve as a driving force or directly engage in the right violation over the past few years across the nation.
Presenting the report before the House on Thursday, the Commissioner General of EHRC, Daniel Bekele (PhD), said that the rising concerns of gross violations of human rights that have occurred in various parts of in the country, are mainly instigated by various non-state actors and proponents who dwell in extreme political views.
In addition, Daniel told the House that the Commission has been conducting its duties under tense political situations.
“It is obvious that the Ethiopian reform process faces huge challenges and obstructions that result in human rights crisis,” he said, adding “Possibly, all of them emanate from past roots of political, social and economic complexities in which the country was immersed in.”
According to the Chief Commissioner, as a result, the commission, over the past one year, has been restructuring itself to effectively undertake its duties with radical measures.
While explaining the extents of human rights violations that have been recurrent in various places, Daniel told MPs that abuses committed by government security forces have now declined and improvements in that scenario were witnessed. He, however, pointed his finger towards political elites whom he accused of fanning a divisive political discourse that result in human rights abuses in different parts of the country.
According to Daniel, the various conflicts and deadly violence that has plagued the country of late, has its roots deep within political interest groups, leading the country into multiple incidents. Because of these extreme political views based on identity and religion, conflicts have cost the lives of many civilians.
“Human rights violations are committed mostly by these groups, than by the government,” Daniel said adding, “This is not similar with previous track records of rights abuses by government agencies, such as security forces.”
As for Daniel, even the ongoing reform or political transition, which has been undertaken by the incumbent, is facing countless incidents of human rights crisis due to violent clashes in several places. “National peace and stability are the responsibilities that rest upon the shoulders of everyone. Hence, every citizen shall contribute his/her part, for the real realization of the human rights in the nation, said the commissioner, said the Commissioner.”
While explaining the role of non-state actors and activists who are behind the worsening situation of rights violations, he said “Citizens were brutally killed in urban and rural areas. Citizens were raped, displaced from their residences, schools, work places and properties were damaged in various places; armed men have abducted people including children, government employees and foreign nationals,” Daniel said.
Underling the major sources of the crisis as being political, social and economical in nature, the commissioner called on lawmakers as well as the government, to seek for a nationwide solution. Furthermore, he said “Bringing to justice those responsible for such human rights crisis should be relentlessly pursued,” and that all political parties and actors to restrain from violence, incite, and to discharge their responsibilities diligently.
Meanwhile, MPs who have heard the commissioner’s report were very critical of the report’s content labeling it as “incomplete.”
MPs said the report failed to include the human rights violations on the ground ‘in real context’ and the situation the nation is engulfed in. Furthermore, they said the report did not show the reactions of law enforcers against the violators and the efforts exerted by the Commission to enforce the law.
The Legal, Justice and Democracy Affairs Standing Committee was requested by MPs to monitor and supervise the Commission. The Commission was only praised for its active participation in the activities of the House whenever it is invited to do so.
In other news, the House has also ratified a proclamation for Prevention and Suppression of Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants, unanimously. The bill imposes punishments that include financial penalties as well as a long-term imprisonment of traffickers, smugglers and their accomplices.
According to the provisions of the endorsed bill, any person who is found guilty of involving in illegal human trafficking is to be sentenced for 7 to 12 years and fined 40,000 to 100,000 Birr.
The law is said to help the country avert and defend peoples’ rights from human traffickers.